Anyone who travels swiftly through several time zones may get jet lag, a brief sleep issue.
Circadian rhythms, your body’s internal clock, tells you when to stay awake and when to go to sleep. Your body’s clock is still in sync with your home time zone rather than the one you’ve travelled to, which causes jet lag.
You are more prone to have jet lag the more time zones you have travelled through.
Daytime lethargy, a sick sensation, trouble staying awake, and digestive issues can all be brought on by jet lag. Although jet lag is only transitory, it can greatly impair your comfort on a holiday or work trip.
Thankfully, there are measures you may take to lessen or prevent jet lag.
The signs of jet lag can differ. One symptom can be all you have, or you might have numerous. Some signs of jet lag include:
- Sleep disturbances such sleeplessness, early wakeups, or excessive tiredness
- Daytime drowsiness
- inability to focus or perform at your usual level
- stomach issues, diarrhea, or constipation
- an overall sense of being unwell
- Mood shifts
The more you travel, the worse the symptoms
If you’ve travelled through at least two time zones, jet lag symptoms typically appear a day or two after departure. The more time zones you’ve travelled across, especially if you’re going east, the more likely it is that your symptoms may worsen or persist longer.
For each time zone travelled, recovery typically takes a day.
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND JET LAG
Depending on which direction you are flying, jet lag behaves differently. It has been known for years that jet lag can have psychological impacts.
Scientists have been observing the impact of jet lag on mental health since at least 1968 as a result of researching passengers who experienced psychiatric breakdowns in airports.
In one of the most thorough investigations on the subject, jet lag was identified as the cause of psychiatric breakdowns and was published in 1982.
The authors examined 186 patients who were transferred from London’s Heathrow Airport to the closest mental health hospital after experiencing a breakdown there over a two-year period.
Most of the others had mental disorder diagnoses, and half of them had a history of schizophrenia.
The authors discovered that people who went from east to west were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who hadn’t.
On the other hand, people who moved from west to east were more frequently diagnosed with hypomania, which is essentially a condition of ecstatic, restless energy.
Does jet lag actually result in mental health issues?
You might be surprised as to why an psychologist would write on jet lag.
People who don’t travel far or frequently don’t typically consider jet lag to be a big issue, but for individuals whose occupations need them to frequently switch time zones, it can start to have a serious impact on their health.
Of course, the well-known signs are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the day. Some people may also experience physical signs like constipation or diarrhea.
The psychological or emotional symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and poor coordination and focus, are less well-known.
Jet lag can be very incapacitating for persons whose jobs require regular foreign travel, such as airline employees.
An interference with your circadian rhythm
Any time you travel across two or more time zones, jet lag may set in. Jet lag happens when your circadian rhythms, which control your sleep-wake cycle, are out of sync with the time in your new location as a result of travelling through several time zones.
If you take a flight from New York at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and land in Paris at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, for instance, your internal clock will still read 1 a.m. That implies that you are prepared for bed just as Parisians are getting out of bed.
Your sleep-wake cycle will also take a few days to adjust, as will the majority of other bodily processes like hunger and bowel movements.
Effects of sunlight
Sunlight has a significant impact on your internal clock. That’s because light affects how melatonin, a hormone that aids in synchronizing cells throughout the body, is regulated.
The light signals are sent from the retina, the tissue at the back of your eye, to the hypothalamus, a region of your brain.
The hypothalamus instructs the pineal gland, a tiny brain organ, to release melatonin at night when the light signal is weak. The pineal gland produces very little melatonin during the daytime, which is the opposite of what happens at night.
By exposing yourself to daylight in the new time zone, you might be able to lessen the adjustment to your new time zone.
HOW CAN ONLINE COUNSELLING HELP?
Online counselling can help in dealing with psychological symptoms of jet lag. If the person is a frequent traveler and travels across multiple time zones frequently; they would start to feel fatigue which would result in different mental health issues like mood changes, anxiety, sleep issues etc.
Online counsellors can help the person in dealing with the long-term psychological affects that can happen due to prolonged affect of jet lag.